Home Dental Care for Cats

Cat teeth are like human teeth and need similar care.

Cat teeth are similar to human teeth. They have the same system of enamel, nerves, blood vessels, and ligaments. Imagine how your teeth would look and feel if you never brushed them. That is exactly what happens to your cat's teeth, because cats don't brush and floss daily. First, the teeth become covered with plaque, which is saliva mixed with bacteria. If the plaque isn't removed from the tooth, it mineralizes and becomes tartar. Tartar allows strains of bacteria that are exceptionally destructive to teeth to invade the mouth.

Negative Outcomes of Dental Disease in Cats

Good dental health is an important factor in your cat's overall physical condition and well-being. Dental disease in cats can be detrimental to nutrition, general health, and quality of life. The list below highlights some long-term consequences of poor feline dental health.

The good news is that, by caring for your cat's teeth on a daily basis, you can greatly reduce or even entirely avoid these negative scenarios.

Supplies Necessary for Caring for Your Cat's Teeth

First, it's always a good idea to take your cat to a veterinarian for an initial dental health assessment. Your cat may need a professional cleaning before you start a home care regimen. Your veterinarian can also advise you about your cat's dental risk factors, products you should use, and even show you how to brush your cat's teeth.

Once you get the go-ahead from your veterinarian, the next step is finding products that work well for your cat. Be patient, as this can require some trial and error.

Steps to Successfully Brushing Your Cat's Teeth

  1. Get your cat get used to having your fingers near and eventually touching her mouth. If this is new for your cat, you may need to proceed at a very gradual pace.
  2. Acclimate your cat to the toothpaste and brush. Start by letting her lick the toothpaste off your fingers. Next time, use your cat toothbrush and, again, encourage your cat to lick the toothpaste off the brush. At this point, your cat may begin to look forward to this yummy treat, so it's not a bad idea to brush your cat's teeth around the same time every day.
  3. When it's time for the real thing, position your cat on a counter or your lap, hugging gently with your forearms so as to minimize squirming and maximize access to the mouth. Start by lifting your cat's upper lips and sliding the brush in a fine circular motion along the gum line. Focus on the front teeth first, then the back teeth if you can. Do the upper teeth first, then the lowers. Brush outer tooth surfaces only (if you want to keep your fingers, that is) because cats don't build up much tarter on the inside surfaces of their teeth. As you and your cat become more comfortable with the procedure, work towards reaching the upper back molars. This is usually where plaque builds up the most. The entire process should take about one minute once you and your cat get the routine down.
  4. Follow every tooth-brushing session with enthusiastic praise, petting, or playtime; whatever your cat appreciates most. You may also give her a dental treat. Reward your cat no matter how far you get into the brushing process. Over time, this procedure will become a habit; something that you and your cat can even enjoy . . . and smile about.

Dr. Schelling's Helpful Hints:

For more tips watch this great video tutorial on brushing your cat's teeth.

This informative video teaches you how to brush your pet's teeth.

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